Gear: Fender John Mayer Stratocaster vs G&L Comanche

Just thought someone might be interested in comparison of these two guitars. The strat is a 2005 Fender John Mayer signature, alder body, maple neck with rosewood fretboard, and she is fitted with three Fender “Big Dipper” single-coil pickups. Comanche is 2006, alder bodied with all-maple neck and features three G&L´s Z-Coil MFD pickups. Both guitars are stock, except mini-toggle switch on the Fender, which does exactly the same thing as the stock mini-switch on the Comanche – allows for two more pickup combinations.

Both guitars were recorded with mild overdrive and a bit of digital delay, amp settings are the same for both. First there´s a neck pickup demo on both guitars, then neck+middle etc…last one is the “tele” combination of bridge and neck. On the strat both the tone controls are on “10”, on the Comanche the treble cut is set around 9, and the bass cut around 7 – sound best to me this way. Recorded straight to the computer using Line6 software. Backing track is a home-made “elevator” type of music. Hope you enjoy it 🙂

IMO, they are really two different beasts. Fender has that mid-scooped bell-like single-coil tone and her clean tones are to die for. In-between positions are warm and quacky at the same time and she can handle reasonable amount of dirt and sings beautifully. On the other side, her sound always stays thin and she can get burried in the mix easier than the Comanche. Also, she does not like hi-gain sounds and her vibrato-bar is only so-so – does not stay in tune after heavier usage even when properly set and lubed. And when set for floating with three springs, the guitar unfortunatelly loses half of her sustain. And yes, she hums like crazy.

On the other side, the Comanche has only few things in common with the single-coil strat sound. Her magnets are ceramic and strong and her offset hum-cancelling pickups pick up the treble strings at completely different spots than the strat´s single coils. Therefore the treble strings will never sound like strat, maybe with exception of the bridge pickup, which is also slanted on the traditional strat. Overall sound of the Comanche seems darker, fatter and more in-your-face to me than the Fender. Clean tones are big, fat and nothing like strat, esp. in the in-between positions. The Comanche´s neck pickup is maybe the biggest difference – it sounds dark and sometimes a little “335-ish”, you can never coax that throaty SRV-type sound out of it. Z-coils can handle every amount of distortion and they do not hum at all. Comanche always cuts through the mix with razor-like intensity. Also, the vibrato-bar stays in tune and you can even do a little divebombing with it.

I would say if you want traditional Fender stratocaster sounds, Comanche won´t cut it. If you want something like SAAB in your guitar garage, then go for the Comanche, she will never dissapoint in beeing different and atracting attention.

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